Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/425

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411
PROCESS


matter of extreme difficulty, the under bitten points breaking or tearing away in the mould. To avoid this under biting a fatty ground is laid over the surface of the block each time it is etched; by exposure to heat this ground is sufficiently melted to permit of its running down the sides of the upstanding points, and so giving them the required protection. The acid blast is less liable than the bath process to eat away the sides of the dots. This method of making tone relief blocks is most generally known as the “ Meisenbach ” process, from Meisenbach, of Munich, who was the first to make it commercially successful, but the history of its development is somewhat obscure. Fox Talbot as early as 1852 took out a patent for using a screen of crape or muslin; he also suggested dusting glass with a ine powder to produce a grain screen. All the early ruled screens were single line, and the credit is due of suggesting the shifting of the single line screen during the operation and, by reversing it, producing the effect of the double line, to Sir Joseph Swan, who patented the process in 1879. Meisenbach's patent for a similar method is dated 1882. The development of the screen was the important factor in the development of the process. The early screens were photographs of ruled plates and the great advance was made by Max Levy of Philadelphia, who made it possible by his ruling machines to produce screens of a fineness and clearness not previously practicable. It was F. E. Ives who, in 1886, introduced ruled screens placed face to face and sealed up so as to produce cross-lined screens. The chief objection to this process is its inability to reproduce the extremes of expression employed by the artist in black and white; actual white is impossible, and delicate tones, such as are characteristic of skies, are destroyed by the cross-bar lines of the screen, which cover down all light passages and rob the reproduction of that brilliancy which characterized wood engraving. It is true that the addition of hand engraving can be resorted to in the case of the process block, and lights and other varieties of tone and form introduced, but this can only be done on blocks of very fine texture, and the cost of reproduction is greatly increased by the introduction of such handwork by the engraver.

The most important development of the half-tone process is in the direction of the reproduction of works in colour by means Three of relief blocks; The theories of colour (q.v.) in Colour light and in pigments enter largely into this develop-B'°'“ ment. White or solar light is composed of rays of light of three distinct colours, red, green and violet, which are called the primary or fundamental colours because by their combination in various proportions all other tones of colour are produced, but they cannot themselves be produced by any combination of other coloured rays. The theory of pig mental colour differs from this in that the primary or foundation colours from which all others are produced, while being themselves unproducible by any admixture, are blue, red and yellow, and while the combination of the red, green and violet of the scientist produces white, the combination of the primaries of pigments in their full strength produces black.

Colour is the result of the absorption and reflection of the rays of light which strike upon a body. » The rays which are reflected are those which affect the vision and produce the sense of colour. Should the object absorb all the rays it appears black, should it absorb none but reflect all it is white, and between these two extremes lie an infinite variety of tones. Filters have been made which absorb and refuse passage to certain coloured rays, while permitting the passage of others, e.g. a. photographic filter of a certain colour will absorb and stop the passage of red and green rays, while permitting the passage through it of the violet. It will then be perceived how, when a picture or other coloured object is placed before a camera, with one of these filters between it and the exposed negative, the rays of light of the colour which can pass through the filter to the negative will be the only ones which can affect it, and that it is possible in this way to secure on three separate negatives a record, of the green, red and violet rays which are reflected from its coloured surface by any object placed before the camera.

411

These records are coloured photographs; they are simply ordinary negatives, records of colour values which may he translated into colour by the use of coloured inks. The principle governing the process is analysis or separation followed by recombination. Positives are made from these colour records, from which by means of the rule screens already described half-tone process blocks are made which, when printed one over the other in coloured inks, combine again the-colours which were separated by the filtering process and give approximately a reproduction of the original in its true colours. The colour used with each block must have relation to the filter used in its production. It must represent a combination of the two colours stopped out by the filter when making the negative from which the block was made, that is to say, the colour usedmust be complementary to the colours stopped out. Certain subjects which are amenable to long exposures can be dealt with by what is known as the “direct process, ” whereby the screen negative and the colour record are made by one operation on the same plate. By this means six of the fifteen otherwise necessary operations are saved, but the method is not always practicable.

As far back as 1861 the suggestion was made at the Royal. Institution by Clerk Maxwell to reproduce objects in their natural coloursiby superimposing the three primary colours. Later Baron Ransomut, of Vienna, Mr Collen, a gentleman who taught drawing to Queen Victoria, and two Frenchmen, MM. Chas. Cros and Ducos du Hauron, carried on the idea and made experiments with the aid of photography, which were still further developed in Germany by Professor Husnik, of Prague, Dr Vogel, of Berlin, and others; but it was in America that the f1rst three-colour blocks for letterpress printing were made, F. E. Ives, at Philadelphia, being their maker in 1881. This three-colour relief process has made great advances in recent years. The first great practical difficulty which had to be overcome was to produce three screen blocks which could be printed one over the other. Were the screens of each block used at the same angle, the lines and dots would print on the top of one another; but a great deal of the colour result depends upon a considerable proportion of each colour being on the white paper. Artists know well that much purer and more brilliant results are produced by placing touches of colour side by side than one over another; small patches of red and blue, placed -side by side, yield to the eye a purple of much greater purity and beauty than the same touches of colour worked one over the other. Consequently it was found necessary to turn the screen at a different angle for each block, so that the lines should not fall on each other but should cross each other; but the risk of this is that, used at certain angles, the crossing of the screen lines will produce what is known as the moiré antique result. Vogel took out a patent in Great Britain for the process, and he therein stated that the screens should be used at certain stated angles. He also proposed to use single-line screens, similar to those used, byi F. E. Ives at Philadelphia, instead of cross-line; but it has since been found that the cross-'or double line screens can be used successfully; and that the angle at which they can be used is not a fixed one.

Filters are made in a dry or wet form. The dry filter is made by spreading a film of gelatin or collodion, tinted by an amline colour, upon a piece of glass. The wet filter is a cell or trough made of two sheets of glass, sealed all round g;i””; and filled with water tinted with an amline dye or 6 colour. The accuracy of the tint of the colour-filter may be tested by the spectroscope, or by an instrument invented by Sir William Abney, and 'known as the Abney colour sensitometer. This is a theoretical test. The practical test is by photographing through them patches of blue, red, and yellow. If, for example, the filter for blue records the full strength of blue with the full strength of the colour of the negative, while iving slight or norecord at all of the red and yellow, it is practically a true filter. It is possible to treat the negatives themselves so as to render them more sensitive to the special colour they are intended to record. Indeed Dr Albert, of Munich, has produced a collodion emulsion which 1S so sensitized that the various colour sensations are directly obtained without the interposition of a colour filter. 'Different makes of plates demand different colour-filters. (For colour-filter making see Ives,